All You Need to Know About Smear Test in London
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Having a regular smear test in London is crucial for women to prevent cervical cancer by identifying abnormal cell growth in the cervix early on. At our clinic, we provide smear testing with a specialist gynaecologist, and our screenings include HPV subtyping to detect high-risk HPV strains.
A smear test is a quick procedure that delivers highly accurate results. During the appointment, the specialist gently inserts a speculum into the vagina and uses a small, soft brush to collect cells from the cervix. The clinic will send these cells to the laboratory for analysis.
Our doctor will advise you on the best next steps if your test reveals abnormalities. Should a referral be necessary, we will arrange it for you at no additional cost.

What Exactly is the Smear Test?

The smear test, or the PAP test, is a crucial screening method for identifying pre-cancerous changes in the cervix. It enables timely treatment before cancer can develop by detecting these changes early.
The cervix, the narrow lower part of the uterus, connects the womb to the vagina and opens during labour to facilitate childbirth. It is lined with a membrane whose cells sometimes change, increasing cancer risk. Various factors can trigger these changes, the most being infection with certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
During a smear test, healthcare professionals collect a sample of cells from the cervical membrane to examine them for abnormalities.

How Does a Smear Test Work?

When you book a smear test in London, you take the first leap to maintain your cervical health. The current recommendation for cervical screening is called Primary HPV screening. During this process, a healthcare professional will take a sample from your cervix, which is the neck of the womb. This sample is then tested for high-risk strains of HPV, the types most commonly linked to cervical cancer.
If the test detects any of these high-risk HPV strains, further testing will be done to examine the sample for abnormal cells, a procedure known as cytology. However, if the test does not find high-risk HPV, it is unlikely that you have any abnormal cells or will develop cervical cancer. In such cases, the sample will not undergo further cytology testing, as there is no need to look at the cells more closely.

What Does a Cervical Smear Test For?

Cervical cancer ranks among the top causes of death for women across all age groups, even though it is more prevalent in older women. During a cervical smear test, a healthcare professional collects a small sample of cells from the cervix, the gateway to the womb, to examine them for abnormalities or the presence of the Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Identifying HPV or abnormal cells early through a cervical smear is the most effective method for preventing the progression of cervical cancer. Estimates report that regular cervical screenings can save 5,000 women from developing cervical cancer each year in the UK.

Who Should Get a Smear Test in London?

Women over the age of 24 should consider getting a smear test. The NHS invites women within this age group to have a smear test every 3-5 years until they turn 64. At our private gynaecology clinic in London, we offer smear tests to sexually active women outside of the NHS 3-5 year interval. Whether you are seeking additional peace of mind or specialist advice, we are here to help.

If you have experienced any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor to determine if a smear test in London is appropriate for you:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Changes in vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the lower back, pelvis or abdomen

Who Should Avoid Getting a Smear Test?

During certain circumstances, avoid getting a smear test. Here are some situations to be aware of:

  • If you have never had sex, a gynaecologist does not recommend a smear test.
  • Wait until your period has ended before scheduling a smear test.
  • Consult a doctor if you experience abnormal bleeding before having a smear test.
  • Pregnant women should avoid smear tests.
  • Those who are less than 12 weeks post-natal should wait before getting a smear test.
  • If you have had cervical cancer, discuss alternative screening options with your healthcare provider.
  • Women who have undergone a total or partial hysterectomy, where the cervix was removed, do not need a smear test.
  • Avoid using vaginal lubricants or creams for two days before your smear test appointment.

If you are concerned about cervical cancer but fall under any of these categories, you can still consult a private gynaecologist in London. They can offer advice, support, and reassurance regarding your health and screening options.

What Should You Know About Having a Private Smear Test?

A private smear test appointment typically takes no longer than 30 minutes. At the beginning of the appointment, the healthcare professional will explain the procedure and address any questions to ensure you feel comfortable and fully understand the process.
You can choose to have a chaperone present during your appointment. You will be asked to undress from the waist down, typically behind a screen or in a private area. Once you are ready, you can cover yourself with a provided sheet. The nurse or doctor will then ask you to lie on your back with your legs bent, feet together, and knees apart.
They will gently insert a smooth, tube-shaped instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The healthcare professional will open the speculum to view your cervix. This part of the procedure should not hurt but feel uncomfortable for a short period. You can request to stop the procedure if you feel uneasy.
Next, the nurse or doctor will use a soft brush to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix. Afterwards, they will close and remove the speculum and give you time to change your dress. The cell sample will then be sent off for analysis.
Top Gynaecologists London offers various women’s health packages that include multiple tests and examinations. Many of these packages feature private cervical screenings, but smear tests can also be provided as a standalone service.

Vivek Nama
Vivek Nama

I'm a Consultant Gynaecologist and Lead Gyn Oncologist at Croydon University Hospital. I pride myself on delivering compassionate and cost-effective care to all my patients. Patient satisfaction and experience are quintessential pillars of all my predominant decisions. With over 18 years of experience in gynaecology and gynaecological oncology, I strive to offer an evidence-based approach to my practice. It has been made effortless through my research activities and the many national and international presentations. If you are concerned about your gynaecological condition, I will be able to help you.